Step 1 in doing a science project

Selecting a topic for your Science Project

How do I select a subject?

The first step in doing a science fair project is selecting a subject. Before selecting a subject for your science fair project, you must check any special requirements outlined by your teacher or your school. You must know if your are supposed to do an experimental project or if you can also do a display project or an engineering project. 

What are experimental projects?

Experimental science projects are projects that study the effect of one specific factor (or variable) on another. Following are samples of experimental science projects:

  • How does temperature affect plant growth?
  • How does the amount of oxygen in the air affect the rate at which the heart beats?
  • How does the concentration of sulfuric acid affect its rate of reaction with iron?

Students in the 8th grade are often required to do an experimental Science fair project. Experimental projects, also known as investigatory projects, use the scientific method to provide trustable results.

What are display projects?

Display projects involve the construction of models or drawing diagrams that can improve your understanding about specific science related subjects. Some science fair projects classified as display projects are:

  • Make a model of the heart
  • Make a model of the eye
  • Make a DNA model
  • Make a volcano model

What are engineering projects?

Engineering science fair projects involve the construction of machines, structures, circuits, robots and any device that requires technical knowledge and skill. In engineering projects you don't have one specific question, instead you have hundreds of questions and challenges that you must overcome in order to make something work or make it work better. Samples of engineering projects are:

  • Construct an electric motor
  • Construct an electric generator
  • Make a blinking light
  • Make an electronic scale
  • Make an electromagnetic crane

What is the Scientific method?

The scientific method is a collection of steps and rules that together can help you conduct an experimental project and get reliable results. 

In the scientific method you must first have a clear question. For example the question "How does light affect the rate of growth in tomato plant?" is a clear question that can be used in a scientific method; however, the question "How do plants grow?" is not a specific question and is not acceptable in a scientific method.

The second step in a scientific method is defining the variables. The main two variables such as light and the rate of growth of tomato plant are known as independent and dependent variables. A scientific method also requires you to identify any other variables that may possibly affect the growth of a tomato plant. Such variables must be classified as controlled variables and constants.

The third step in scientific method is hypothesizing. In other words you must have an educated guess about the answer to your question or the results of your experiments. This is required so you can discover the relations between different scientific phenomena.

The fourth step is designing and performing the experiments. Experiments must usually be repeated with different values of your independent variable while you measure and record the dependent variable. For example you may grow tomato plants with different amounts of light and measure and record the plant growth.

The final step of a scientific method is analyzing the results and drawing a conclusion. In this step you must look for inconsistencies and possible errors in your results. You must also decide if you have a conclusive result or if further experiments are required. Home Page